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Vincent van Gogh

Page history last edited by emilyc 8 years, 4 months ago

Emily Cheltenham


Vincent van Gogh


You probably know van Gogh as the crazy artist who cut off his ear and made beautiful paintings, but he is so much more than that. He cared very much about his work and devoted his life to it. About drawing he said “You have to know just to be able to draw the least thing.”(Van Gogh, 1880). Now let’s go through his chaotic life step by step.


Early life and Education

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. His parents were Theodorus van Gogh (father) a pastor, and Anna Cornelia Carbentus (mother). Van Gogh, the oldest, had two brothers and three sisters. He had an older brother, also named Vincent, who died at birth. His closest brother was Theo. Van Gogh wrote over 800 letters to his brother in his lifetime. In one of which he said “my youth was gloomy and cold and sterile.”(Van Gogh, 1883). He attended the village school in Zundert in 1860. From 1861 to October 1st1864 van Gogh was taught at home with his sister Anna. On October 1st1864 he was placed in Jan Provily’s boarding school in Zavenburg. In September 1866 he went to Willem II College Middle School in Tilburg.

Beginning of career

Since van Gogh believed he had a religious calling, he did missionary work in the slums of London, and the mining districts of Belgium in 1879. He lived like those he preached to. He slept on straw in a small hut in the back of a baker’s house where he was staying. The baker’s wife said she sometimes heard him crying at night. He later moved to Cuesmes, Belgium and lived with a miner Charles Decurcq until October. There, he was interested in the people and the scenes around him and recorded it in his drawings, after his brother Theo’s suggestion to take up art. He studied with Dutch artist Willem Roelofs who convinced him to attend Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He registered on November 15, 1880. At Académie he studied anatomy and the standard rules of modeling and perspective. His style was post-impressionism and he modeled his style after Jean-François Millet. He was also influenced by Japanese artists and impressionists. Van Gogh taught himself how to draw. He experimented with different subject matters and perspective shading and anatomy. In 1881, he took lessons from his cousin Anton Mauve. In 1884, he began to master weathered hands, heads and other features of peasants. He used these skills in a piece called "The potato eaters". This piece was finished in April 1885. At the beginning of his career he used dark colors, but later switched to lighter colors. He thought this made his art “modern art”. Most of his money came from his brother Theo and most of it was spent on art supplies, coffee, and cigarettes. Van Gogh only ever sold one painting while he was alive.


Van Gogh suffered from many health problems. He suffered from seizures which some doctors think were caused by temporal lobe epilepsy. Since he had such a crazy life, a diagnosis of bipolar or manic depression would make sense in his life. To counteract the depression, anxiety, and epilepsy, van Gogh drank absinthe, a toxic alcoholic drink. Thujone is a toxin in absinthe that only aggravated van Gogh's epilepsy and depression. Some also believe van Gogh suffered from lead poisoning from nibbling on lead based paint chips. Hypergraphia is a condition where you have the constant need to write. Some think this is why van Gogh wrote over 800 letters. Van Gogh usually painted outside and described nausea and "bad stomach" in some of his letters to his brother. This could have been sun stroke.


You have probably already heard that van Gogh went crazy and cut off his ear, but here is the whole story. In 1888 van Gogh moved to Arles, France in hopes of starting an art school with some other artist friends. One of those artists was Paul Gauguin, who left Arles after an incident. Van Gogh then pursued Gauguin with an open razor, but ended up cutting off a portion of his own ear lobe. He then went through fits of madness and was sent to the asylum at Saint-Rémy.


Van Gogh died from a self inflicted gunshot wound. He went to a field where he had painted before and shot himself between the stomach and heart, but only fainted. Later he woke up and stumbled back to where he was staying and Dr. Gachet dressed his wound and wanted to save him, but van Gogh said "then I'll have to do it over again.” Van Gogh died at 1:30 AM Tuesday, July 29th, 1890.


After his death van Gogh's sister in law, a supporter of his art, collected as many of his paintings as she could. On March 17th, 1901, 71 of van Gogh's paintings were displayed at a show in Paris. There his fame grew tremendously. Van Gogh never married or had, children but called his paintings his "children.” Van Gogh enjoyed painting portraits, cypresses, flowers, and wheat fields. He painted in watercolors and oil paintings. By the mid 1900s he was considered one of the greatest and most recognizable artists or painters in history. Now van Gogh's paintings are some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. Several of his paintings have sold for over 100 million dollars. His self portrait with bandaged ear sold for 90 million dollars. Van Gogh painted his signature piece Sun Flowersto decorate Paul Gauguin's bedroom. One of his most famous pieces Starry Night is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Van Gogh painted more than 43 self portraits. His self portraits from Saint-Rémy show himself from the right. This is because he painted his reflection in the mirror.



Van Gogh influenced people in many ways. He influenced people with mental disorders and many books were written about his disorders. He was considered a trailblazer of modern art and the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. People are inspired by his broad brush strokes. Also many expressionist have adapted van Gogh's style. That is how he influenced many.



I have always loved his paintings and learning more about him has been very interesting. Learning about him has made me realize even if you are not successful now you could be in the future so keep doing what you love.



So now you know more about van Gogh than just he cut off his ear. Now you know about his life and his art and how he changed the art world by inspiring many with his style. You also know he battled many heath issues and still ended up famous even though he never lived to see it. That is the amazing life of Vincent Willem van Gogh.














Author unknown,"Van Gogh Gallery",vangoghgallery.com Templeton Reid, LLC January 15, 2013.web.Febuary 16, 2016 <www.vangoghgallery.com>


Biography.com editors " Vincent van Gogh biography" Biography.com A&E Television Networks.web. February 17, 2016 <www.biography.com/people/vincent-van-gogh-95156957>


de la Croix, Horst and Tansey, Richard G. Art Through The Ages Eighth Edition Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Javonovich, Inc. 1986


Wikipedia Contributors; "Vincent van Gogh" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, February 9,2016 .web. February 11, 2016




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